Store portfolio showing signs of improvement
Elle parent Actif Group has sent out a warning on full-year profits as sales were hit in the first half of the year to January 29 by portfolio restructuring.

Group Turnover was up by 5 per cent compared with the same period last year, to£14.8 million. However, pre-tax profit was down 9.8 per cent to£248,000.

The group's retail chain Elle, which accounts for 54 per cent of total sales made retail sales of£8.1 million. Gross margins for the division increased by 1.6 percentage points to 64.8 per cent. However, like-for-like sales for Elle were down 1 per cent and 5.8 per cent in total, following a rationalisation of the store portfolio.

The retailer cited the 7 per cent like-for-like sales increase at prime stores as evidence that this rationalisation and a strategy to improve the product offer, was having a positive impact on the retailer's performance. It also noted that a new flagship store in Croydon was opened during the period.

Actif Group chairman David Brock's outlook on the rest of the year was downbeat however. He said: 'We do not anticipate any improvement in the market conditions which remain challenging. On this basis we have realigned our expectations for the second half and, as a result, we now anticipate full-year profits for the current financial year to be broadly similar to last year.'